Four of the ten largest empires are former Western colonial empires.
The British Colonial Empire, with a surface area of 35,500,000 km2: since 1926, the Commonwealth has included the colonies that broke away from the British Empire, initially the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Newfoundland. Today, it comprises 56 states, 4 of which are not former British colonies: Mozambique, Rwanda, Gambia and Togo. For 15 of these states, the King of England is also the country’s monarch, 36 are republics and 5 have a different monarch.
The Mongol Empire with a surface area of 33,200,000 km2: the Mongol Empire stretched from the eastern Mediterranean to the Pacific, up to the Baltic Sea, covered the Russian steppes, part of Siberia, included all of China and descended to northern India. Until the end of the Mongol Empire in 1368, the empire was divided into four territories: the China of the Yuan dynasty, the Djaghataï in Central Asia, the Ilkhan from Persia to Georgia and eastern Turkey, and the Golden Horde corresponding to the Russian steppes as far as the Black Sea.
The Russian Empire covered an area of 22,800. 000 km2: from 1721 to 1917, the Russian Empire extended as far as Finland, Poland, Moldavia and the Caucasus in its western part, and in its eastern part as far as Alaska, sold to the USA in 1867 and including the city of Port-Arthur in China’s Liaoning province, returned to China in 1955.
The Spanish colonial empire with a surface area of 22,000,000 km2: in 1556, under the reign of Philip II, Spain was considered the most powerful empire in the world. The colonial empire began in 1492 with the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and ended in 1975 with the withdrawal of the Spanish Sahara.
The Qing Dynasty with a surface area of 14,700,000 km2: this dynasty of Manchu origin replaced the Ming dynasty in 1644. It reigned until the Chinese Revolution of 1911, which led to the abdication of China’s last emperor, Puyi, on February 12, 1912, and the proclamation of the Republic of China.
The French colonial empire with a surface area of 13,500. 000 km2: the French colonial empire was divided into a first colonial empire, corresponding to possessions prior to the French Revolution and including New France and Saint-Domingue, and a second colonial empire from 1815 onwards, following the sale of Louisiana and the independence of Saint-Domingue, now Haiti.
The Abbasid Caliphate, with a surface area of 11,100,000 km2: the Abbasid dynasty ruled the Muslim world from 750 to 1258, with Baghdad as its main capital. It extended from Tunisia to the banks of the Indus and included the Arabian Peninsula and southern Turkey.
The Umayyad Caliphate, with a surface area of 11,000,000 km2: the Umayyad dynasty ruled the Muslim world from 661 to 750, with Damascus as its main capital. It extended from the banks of the Indus to the Iberian Peninsula and included the whole of North Africa.
The Yuan dynasty, with a surface area of 11,000,000 km2: Mongol dynasty founded by the grandson of Genghis Kahn in 1271. Its territory corresponded to one of the four divisions of the Mongol Empire and included mainly Mongolia and China. It was replaced by the Ming Dynasty in 1368.
The Portuguese colonial empire with 10,400. 000 km2: the constitution of the colonial empire began with the conquest of Ceuta, Morocco, in 1415, and then became one of the world’s two largest empires, alongside that of Spain. The two empires divided the world in 1494 in the Treaty of Tordesillas, which provided for a zone for Spain west of the 46th meridian and a zone for Portugal east of the meridian, including Brazil. The empire came to an end with the declaration of independence of East Timor in 1975 and the retrocession of Macau to China in 1999.